With their greatest musical and commercial conquests decades behind them, Blue Cheer manage only brief moments of hard rock glory on this 1990 recording. After a brief European reunion tour, Dickie Peterson (bass/vocals), Andrew McDonald (guitar), and Paul Whaley (drums) stuck together long enough to forge this disc for Germany's Nibelung Records. Originally a vinyl-only limited release, Highlights and Low Lives, was eventually issued on CD through Magnum Records. Sounding at times like a geriatric Great White, Blue Cheer struggle through the slow to mid-tempo bluesy tracks "Big Trouble in Paradise" and "Blue Steel Dues." Equally shameful '80s rockers like "Down and Dirty" have a dated sound that recalls horrid Kiss records like Asylum and Crazy Nights. Some may disagree, but there were a few big hair American outfits (Bon Jovi, Ratt) that drove the genre with skilled songwriting and decent guitar chops. When old-timers like Blue Cheer try on the affected arena rock swagger though, well, let's just say this is a warning. Peterson does deliver a few surprisingly strong vocal performances, providing the record's only real point of interest. On the disc's best track, "Hoochie Coochie Man," things really click, and listeners are reminded of the soulful near-metal that made this group famous. But Highlights and Low Lives is mired in stale '80s conventions, and should be avoided by everyone except the most extreme Blue Cheer fanatics.
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AllMusic Review by Vincent Jeffries